Immigration powers: Gove giveth, Mundell taketh away
In Nicola Sturgeon’s foreword to “Scotland’s place in Europe”, she wrote the following.
It stands to reason that the proposals we put forward in this paper fall short of what we consider to be the best status for Scotland and the UK – full membership of the EU.
However, they are designed to mitigate – as far as possible – the real and serious risks for Scotland caused by being taken out of the EU against our will. Firstly, we argue that the UK as a whole should remain within the European Single Market – through the European Economic Area – and within the EU Customs Union. Secondly, we consider how Scotland could remain a member of the European Single Market and retain some key benefits of EU membership even if the rest of the UK decides to leave.
We recognise and explore the significant practical challenges involved in implementing such proposals. We do not underestimate the scale of those challenges.
One of the challenges she was alluding to was the moving of powers over immigration from Westminster to Holyrood.
Scotland needs those powers because we have a massive demographic time-bomb which clashes with the anti-immigration stance that drove Brexit. For a long time now immigration policy set at Westminster has been detrimental to Scotland and the signs are that this is going to get worse after Brexit.
However, of all the challenging proposals in Sturgeon’s post Brexit plan, devolved immigration powers didn’t seem too insurmountable. You see, before the Brexit vote Michael Gove, who was then a UK government minister promised Scotland would receive those powers.
Predictably, this week that promise has been well and truly retracted by the Scottish Secretary David Mundell.
This means that Sturgeon’s compromise position of Scotland remaining in the EU Single Market is not going to happen.
As we have talked about many times, Scotland’s constitutional situation means that our country has very little control over its fate.
That’s why, just like in the case above, time and time again the UK government can tell us one thing and then do another. From the key promise of Better Together keeping us in the EU and the UK being a partner of equals, to the Post Brexit repatriation of control of fishing and farming. It was all a great ruse to shepherd us into the Tory dominated post-Brexit UK.
We really need to decide once and for all if we are happy to remain a region of the UK or if we want to be a proper country.